• Published 21st Jan 2015
  • 3,995 Views, 197 Comments

The Mailmare - Bad Horse

The Equestrian Postal Carrier's Hoofbook lists three circumstances under which mail service may be suspended. The end of the world is not one of them.

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7. Special delivery

Some time later—perhaps a week, perhaps a month; it was impossible to know—Derpy delivered the last of her letters from the raiders. It was to Tale Spin’s mother, a pegasus named Summer Rain who’d lived in one of the sprawling suburbs outside Canterlot. He’d written it on the back of Sweet Mint’s rejection letter, which Derpy admitted she probably didn’t want anymore, and also listed the names and last known locations of some of his mother’s friends and relations. He didn’t even seem to consider that Derpy might harm them. Not that she would. But his trust humiliated her. As if she were harmless. Or maybe he thought she felt grateful to him.

It had hurt Derpy almost more than she could bear to fly in the shadow of the mountain. She’d tried not to look at the scar where Canterlot had been. A fine black powder blew down from it, drifting with the wind, that made her nose run and her eyes water. Once she’d heard what sounded like a bird cawing from the mountain’s upper reaches, but in a deeper tone that would be produced by something with a much larger lung capacity. She’d stayed low to the ground and well away from the mountain after that.

The area around the mountain had been abandoned. Derpy had found the survivors, mostly unicorns, banded together in a new settlement in the plains to its north, which they called New Canterlot. It was a grandiose name for a shanty-town that looked like it had been constructed from the odds and ends left over after building Appleloosa. Unicorns didn’t have the earth pony knack for such things.

Derpy had tracked Tale Spin’s mother down there. She was living with a broad-shouldered stallion named High Hopes. Probably, Derpy thought, she’d squeeze out another sturdy foal or two and give them whatever negligent mothering it was that led a pony to become a raider of the wastes.

Summer Rain had cried when she read the letter.

“Did you see him?” she’d said. “Is he well? Is he getting enough to eat? Has he settled down?”

“I wouldn’t say he’s settled,” Derpy said. “But he’s doing all right for himself.”

“Has he got himself a mare?”

“From time to time,” Derpy said.

Summer Rain smiled and tsk’ed. “He always was a rogue.”

“I expect so, ma’am.”

“Please,” she said, and nodded towards her hovel, little more than a lean-to made of siding from an old barn and a corrugated tin roof. “Come inside. Have some tea. Tell me everything.”

Derpy backed away. “Sorry, ma’am. I have to fly.”

Summer’s face fell. “Surely you’ll wait for me to write a reply?”

“Mail service to his location has been suspended,” Derpy said, trying to keep her face neutral. One advantage of her lazy eye was that ponies were seldom able to read her face.

Summer leaned in close. “Then take me with you! Take me to him! I’ll pay you... “ She looked around her little patch of dirt, and sighed.

Derpy took another step back.

“Please,” Summer said. “Are you a mother yourself? Have you got a little one somewhere?”

“No, ma’am,” Derpy said stonily.

The older mare sniffled. “Well,” she said. “Thank you for your troubles, miss.”

Derpy said nothing.

Summer leaned against one of the posts holding her roof up. “I’m sorry,” she said, looking off toward the mountain. “It’s just… he’s so far away. Life isn’t fair.”

“No, Ma’am,” Derpy said. “It isn’t.”